Sunday, November 20, 2011

fire adventure

on fire

As a librarian, I've been in on the whole ebook debate for years. For a while we all just tried to pretend it wasn't happening, but then our library started offering ebooks and we had to try to help our patrons use them. I was able to keep out of the fray for a good long while. People would ask me what I thought of ereaders and I'd say that I could definitely see the appeal, especially for folks who travel a lot, but at the time I didn't feel that I needed one.

Also I oversee a fine press collection at work and hang out with book arts folks. I think other people who know this about me thought I'd be outraged by the whole ebook development. But to me all of these things are tools, really. And I will out myself here and say that I am really not attached to books as objects so much. OK, to be really honest I'm just not a fan of old books. I enjoy a beautifully designed book as much as the next guy, but I'm not a big history person. Old does not mean good in my book necessarily. It is just as likely to mean musty. I guess I'm really a better Buddhist than librarian. Let's just say I have a deep respect for impermanence. So, while I love owning some books that are like dear friends, I'm not just a print books=good kind of person.

And I'm a former Merlin owner and devotee. Oh, the hours I spent pushing those little red lights! So I totally get the appeal of shiny handheld devices.

Anyway, fast forward 30 some-odd years from my Merlin days and now I'm responsible for actually helping our patrons use these various devices to read ebooks. And in not using these myself, it has started feeling like giving directions to someone on Mars: "Do you see a crater? They mention a crater..." I'm pretty used to just blocking out mention of new gadgets in popular culture. I don't have an iPhone or an iPad. I'm really all about trying to simplify my life and these didn't seem to fit that plan. But then in a staff meeting someone described the new Kindle Fire (brace yourself for more ereader questions after the holidays) as "the poor man's iPad".

Well, that sounded pretty great to me! I'd actually been wanting to read a book by Leo Babauta that came out last month but only as an ebook. It hadn't seemed at all appealing to download it to my laptop, so in the back of my mind I'd already been thinking of getting a really scaled-down Kindle, but hearing that the new Fire could access the web made me do a little more research. It was when I heard that there was a Netflix app that I knew I had to make my move.

So I'm a proud new Fire owner and thus far I'm completely delighted. My expectations were pretty low - just wanted to be able to answer patron questions better, read books from the library, and stream movies, so everything else I discover I can do makes me dance in joy. And I've been doing a lot of dancing.